Monday, 3 February 2020

Goodbye to Wherry Lines Semaphores

47818 runs around its train on 6th September 2009 while working the Summer Saturday 'drags' between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The train would continue to London behind 90036. Dominating the scene are the mechanical signals and Yarmouth Vaux box dating from 1884. 
'One' Anglia's 170201 passes Lowestoft box and passes the platform starter
signals. The livery and stock have both since been replaced here. 25/07/2008
Over the weekend of 1st/2nd of February work to finally decommission the historic semaphore signalling on the Wherry Lines between Norwich and Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft entered its final stages. This multi-million pould project to move control from local boxes to the signalling centre at Colchester has over-run but finally and end is in sight, and with that the closure of the signalboxes which have governed this route since 1884. The decommissioned signal boxes will face a variety of fates, sadly for most this will mean demolition. Two boxes however will be saved and find new homes at local preserved railways; the box at Brundall will move to the Mid Norfolk Railway, while Reedham box will find a new home at the North Norfolk Railway. Other boxes, including the large structure at Yarmouth Vaux will be demolished.

These local lines have seen massive investment in recent years with track rewewals, re-signalling and the introduction of brand new state-of-the-art trains, the Stadtler Flirt which are currently being introduced by Greater Anglia. There is no doubt that the transformation of the Wherry lines can only be good for passengers, but for enthusiasts now that the last lever has been pulled and the last semaphore dropped the routes will never quite be the same.

37405 works the loco hauled 'short set' past the signalbox at Reedham on 17th August 2016. This box will find a new home on the North Norfolk Railway.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Trains in Lisbon CP

Very much a non-train holiday to Lisbon but of course, as often happens, they do usually manage to sneak into the picture just a little bit. As it happens, and purely by chance, my accommodation was just a 5 minute walk from the long distance terminus Lisbon Santa Apolonia and within the view from the hotel window. With a bit of help from the Interrail App it wasn't too difficult to make a couple of visits during my stay to catch a bit of the action with traditional long distance services in the hands of the CP 5600.


My first sight of one of the Siemens / Soreframe 5600 locos was on the blocks at Santa Apolonia after emerging from the Metro from the airport. In the same location 5618 is seen the following morning (13/11/2019) The locos were built from 1993 and currently manage all long distance services that are not in the hands of more recent 'pendolino' EMU's.


5603 is seen backing onto it's next service at Lisbon Santa Apolonia. 15/11/2019


As far as I was concerned the highlight of station operations, and the locos I really wanted to see where the CP 1400's employed on shunting duties. I had met with these locos earlier in the year in the Porto region and had a thoroughly good time chasing them on the Douro valley. Generally after a mainline arrival either a 5600 would drop onto the front of the train to form the next departure of a 1400 would arrive to shunt the stock to the carriage sidings.  On 13th November 2019, 1429 is seen performing one such move. Electric locomotives wait between turns on the middle road.


The 1400 class is well known to British enthusiasts as the 'Portugese class 20' and indeed the first examples were built in the UK by English Electric at their Newton-le-Willows factory. Subsequent locos were built under license in Portugal. Their reliability and popularity has ensured the class a long life with many examples still working today. 1427 is pictured entering the station on 15/11/2019.


1427 waits with another set of empties to the carriage sidings on 15th November 2019. In the roads to the right can be seen one of the more modern 'Pendolino' EMU's while a local DMU occupies the nearest line. The coaches used are based on the sucessful French 'Corail' design constructed in Portugal by Soreframe who specialised in using stainless steel technology licenced by the US Budd company. Internally the coaches are very much like their counterparts operating for SNCF.


After departing from Lisbon Santa Apolonia the first station is the 1998 built modern masterpiece at Oriente. This is a major interchange for rail, metro and bus services built in a modernist gothic style. The building is certainly impressive, though perhaps pleasing more to the photographer than the passenger as the lack of walls make the space somewhat draughty! 5614 is seen having run round a short train of Corails on 14th November 2019.


My final train of the trip was 5608 which was taken the short distance from Santa Apolonia to Oriente to then transfer to the metro to reach the airport on 15th November 2019.

Of course any trip to Lisbon would not be complete without mention of the cities wonderful trams (especially so for those with an interest in transport!). The tram system here is almost unique with incredible geometry and gradients as it snakes its way through the cobbled winding streets of the old districts of Lisbon. When it came to upgrade the system there were simply no vehicles available which could meet the needs of the city, particularly with the narrow wheelbase of the vehicles which was required to fit through the tiny gaps between buildings (often passing within a whisker of them)- therefore the old trams were re-engineered and retained. The vehicles with their wooden interiors certainly have a lot of charm and it is no surprise that tourists flock to ride them around the old town. Unfortunately this has made the trams a victim of their own success with queues to board and virtually no chance of hopping on one at an intermediate stop during busy times. The route 28 which coveres the largest circle of the old town being particularly poular. Fortunately travelling in November made the trams a little more bearable - and plus by riding routes other than the 28 it is usually possible to have a much less crowded ride!

Monday, 13 January 2020

18-26th October 2019 Ukraine Trip Report NS-DB-PKP-UZ


2M62u-0214 waits to depart from Lviv with a train to Ivano-Frankivsk on 22nd October 2019.
The best part of a week away in Ukraine focusing on the Lviv and Ivano Frankivsk areas. Journey out by train from London (why not!?) and back by air.

Friday 18th October:
The direct connection from London, e320 4020 Eurostar at Amsterdam Central.
An early start for the 07:16 Eurostar from St Pancras to Amsterdam. It was a slight surprise when planning the trip that that the Amsterdam route came up quickest, but a look at the map reveals that this is a fairly direct route and of course the time saving by not changing in Brussels certainly helps. Standard Premiere was enjoyed for perhaps the last time (new FIP restrictions make a future booking unlikely) although I don't think the 'snack boxes' will receive particularly favourable reviews- I think the bins at Amsterdam must have been overflowing with uneaten packets of olives! Arrival into a sunny Amsterdam was roughly on time which gave around 40 minutes for some photos on the station before boarding the IC to Berlin.
A well lit 'Koplopper' 4219 at Amsterdam Central 18/10/2019

1744 was provided for the 13:59 Amsterdam - Berlin, the outgoing locos now looking very tired and unloved. The train however was virtually full and standing throughout, knowing this was likely we headed straight for the buffet and found a table and three beers to keep us entertained for the journey, excitedly passing many 'last' DDAR+1700 sets. All was going well until just before Bad Bentheim when the crew announced that due to a loco failure DB would not be able to provide a loco to take the train forward into Germany and therefore we would be terminating at the border.
NS 1745 prepares to work ECS to back to Amsterdam from Bad Bentheim. 

No replacement transport would be available and other than a unit to Osnabruck which the crew thought would be too short to take everyone, there was no option but to wait for the next train two hours later. DB at their finest and we hadn't even made it into their country yet! The crew were very apologetic and announced that they were 'ashamed to wear the uniform of DB' - you'd probably get sacked for saying that back home!? Anyway- with no alternative we watched the set depart back to Amsterdam with 1745 now at the helm and headed off with our 'complimentary' beer glasses from the buffet to find some sustenance. The station buffet was understandably heaving so the sensible option to walk into town was taken.
Away from the station Bad Bentheim is quite a pleasant lunch stop!

It turns out that Bad Bentheim is actually very pleasant and a nice meal was enjoyed before heading back to the station for the next train to Berlin. With this train likely to be even busier than the last we again headed to the buffet and a table was secured. Some sort of issue resulted in the train departing almost 15 minutes late behind 101 143 after a freight had been put out in front. There seemed to be an issue with one of the coaches which was very stuffy with no heating or lighting. Of course the delay meant that it was not going to get dark very early into the journey, and also we had clearly lost our path. Eventual arrival into Berlin was almost an hour late, making a total of 8 hours to complete the 5 hour journey from Amsterdam. Not the best start and we had definitely now missed our planned dinner in Berlin (though the replacement Currywurst on the train wasn't too bad).
Finally arriving into Berlin HBf behind 101-143.
Our final train of the day was an RE1 behind 182 014 taking us through to Frankfurt (Oder) where we arrived just after midnight and would stop for the night. A pretty intense day of travelling but we had made it almost half way to Kiev.

Saturday 19th October:
Before dawn at Frankfurt (Oder) as we prepare to cross into Poland.

Vectron 193 626 powers the Berlin - Warsaw Express. 19/10/2019.
After a comfortable, if short, nights sleep it was back to the station for 06:45 for the first Berlin - Warsaw Express of the day. At least it was an hour later than joining in Berlin! It was very much still dark as we boarded with a slight surprise to see MRCE's 193 626 at the helm of the train in place of the booked EU44 PKP Taurus. The weary travellers were revived by a very nice breakfast in the Polish buffet. Arrival into Poznan was on time where we left the train for a 4 hour break.

Ol49-69 heads to depot after arrival at Poznan. 19/10/2019.
This coincided with the arrival of Ol49-69 on the steam service from Wolsztyn, the return of which was taken a few stops to Wiry where there should have been a nice connection back into the city. Of course this didn't go to plan with the 2 car unit turning up around 25 minutes late and absolutely bursting to the seams. There was no way we were going to get on and after a local had an argument with the driver we resigned ourselves to Polish Uber to get back to Poznan in time for our next train- thankfully that didn't work too badly as missing the next Warsaw express would have been pretty catastrophic for the trip!

Ol49-69 departs from Wiry for Wolsztyn. 


EP07-329 arrives into Poznan. 19/10/2019
It is a number of years since my last visit to Poland and while it is definitely true that the country has modernised it was good to still see plenty of EU07's around Poznan. EU44 007 arrived with the Berlin - Warsaw but a delay of almost 15 minutes leaving Poznan indicated that the loco had been swapped and had not taken us forward. A walk through the train after departure revealed that EP09 010 was now in charge- we'd made it the whole way across Poland without a Taurus! After loosing further time we arrived into Warsaw Zachodnia some 20 minutes late where we bailed for a photo. A quick leap onto the following train with EP07 332 on an overnight Moscow then took us into Warsaw Centralna where we stocked up on supplies for our own overnight.
PKP 'Gama' loco SU160 - 006 stands at Lublin with the 'Kiev Express' diverted via Lukow due to extended engineering works necessitating some unexpected diesel haulage.  19/10/2019
EP07 554 brought in the stock for the Kiev Express and we settled into our 3 man berth in the Ukrainian coach behind the Polish day coaches which would be our home for the next 16 hours.
The first 'leg stretching' stop at Lukow brought a surprise- we had not realised the train re-engined and went over a diesel line! (Only once home was it discovered that a long term diversion was affecting the train due to engineering works blocking the usual electric route). Very promptly our EU07 disappeared into the Polish night with 'Gama' SU160 006 backing on to the train to take us forward to Lublin. While not the most exciting locos ever created (and certainly not the noisiest) it was a winning class for all three of us and an unexpected bonus. A pair of very rebuilt ST48's appeared with a freight - hopefully anything we would see in Ukraine would be a bit more 'real'!
SU160 - 006 waits to depart from Lukow after reversal

The next loco change was at Lublin where the SU160 was removed and EP07 387 backed on for the run to the far edge of Poland at Dorohutsk. Our electric loco was removed and passport procedures began. We would now not be allowed off the train until arrival in Kiev the following morning, as while I had not realised at the time we were being customed out of Poland but would not be stamped into the Ukraine until Kiev - truly we were now on an international train (this arrangement clearly having changed since my last trip in 2012 where it was all done at the border).


Sunday 20th October:
Inside the gauge changer at Dorohutsk, Ukraine. 
We sneaked past the provodnistas in the other coaches of our now 4 coach train to discover the traction taking us forward across the Ukrainian border. SM42 380 was up front and worked the train from Dorohutsk to the platform at Yahodyn in Ukraine. Back in our coach, now at the rear of the train we awaited our last standard gauge loco of the trip which would take us back to the gauge change shed for the bogies to be swapped from Standard Gauge to Broad Gauge and for the drawgear to be changed from three-link to buckeye. It was with much anticipation that our first Ukrainian loco backed onto the train in the shape of standard gauge M62 1408. With the door open (until we were told to close it) and with the company of a very annoying American tourist we watched and listened as we were pushed into the gauge changer and the loco detached each coach to be lifted. When I was last in this shed my coach had opening windows and therefore capturing the action this time was somewhat challenging- not withstanding that our Provodnista clearly wanted us to go to bed! Before we did so there was just one final task- to identify the loco which would work us forward from the Gauge Changer and on to Ukrainian metals.
VL80 390 passes through Kiev Vyshneve with our first UZ freigh train in perfect conditions. 20/10/2019.
Unfortunately this was one task we did not complete, despite our best efforts. We could no longer get off the train and after the gauge change the gangway floors between the coaches were not lowered so we could not even walk through. It is understood that the diesel loco worked all the way through to Korosten via Sarny. We woke briefly at Korosten to check if we passed a loco that had obviously come off the front of our train but nothing was seen. A mystery it will clearly remain. What we do know is that we next woke up to a call telling us we were 10 minutes from Kiev! Not a lot of time to get dressed and ready for the day! So much so we missed a photo of the electric loco that brought us in (though I'm not sure how well that would have gone down with the guards on the 'international' platform. I was at least able to identify it as DS3 018- a class that was unfamiliar to me and which we would never see again on the trip!
Tatra T3 5798 tram near Kiev Main Station.

Articulated CHS8-011 departs Kiev and passes through Kiev Vyshneve. 
We met with James Hawkes at the station, the final member of our quartet (who had taken the crazy option of flying direct to Kiev!) and after working out the lockers at Kiev Pass (almost worth an article in their own right) we headed out by mini-bus to a spot he had identified at Vyshneve to spend the time until our next overnight train left at 17:11. We set up camp on the crossing which turned out to be a very good spot with decent views of trains in both direction and some lovely autumn colours on the trees. Fortunately most of the trains came in the right direction and we spent a pleasant couple of hours photographing long freights with green VL80's and passenger services in the hands of single ChS4 and ChS8 articulated locos.
CHS4-059 at Kiev Vyshneve 20/10/2019.

After recovering our bags and stocking up on supplies including a couple of bottles of wine (those DB glasses were going to come in very useful) we settled on to train 14/13 behind ChS4 061 which would take us overnight from Kiev to Vynohradiv-Zakarpatskyi. We had gone for the highest class sleeper option tonight with two berths of two each and plenty of space. The berths were equipped with TV's and plug sockets but once again no opening windows.






Monday 21st October:
Arrival at Chop is greeted by shunter ChME3 - 4177 and our onward traction M62 - 1391. 21/10/2019

Soviet shunters TGM40 - 0563 (rear) and another near Chop.
We awoke to sunrise just before Chop to see that VL10 1478 had re-enginged our train at Lviv. This was detached very quickly (as all locos in Ukraine seem to be) meanwhile a very smart blue M62 1391 attached to the other end of the train to work forward to Solotvyno-1 where the train ended. We had around 2 more hours on board to eat some breakfast and prepare for disembarkation at Vynohradiv.
M62 - 1391 looks very smart in blue in charge of it's train to Solotvyno-1 seen at Vynohradiv. 21/10/2019.

The spartan interior of the UZ D1 DMU.
After a quick dash to photograph the loco which was a long way forward from our coach we went back to get into position for what we had come all this way to see - one of the last UZ narrow gauge lines which now only runs a short section Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. The train was due at around 11:00 and a position was found that we were all happy with. There wasn't a lot of sign of life though a man in orange appeared to be ready to operate the points - definitely a good sign. What was less good a sign was the man shaking his head and gesturing that there was no photo. Eventually we established that he was trying to tell us that the train was not coming. And indeed it wasn't. This left a bit of a problem- what were we going to do with the day now!?
D1-582 calls at Vynohradiv. Note the dual gauge tracks through the station. 21/10/2019.

TU7 locomotives outside the narrow gauge depot at Berehove. TU2-034
can be seen through the depot doors. 21/10/2109.
Fortunately there was a cafe with WiFi across from the station so we decamped there for a re-plan and to persuade them to look after our bags for the day. The timetable took some deciphering but revealed that there were just a few local trains, which we were expecting to be units and the next loco hauled train we were now expecting would be ours returning in the early evening. A look at Google maps revealed the approximate location of the narrow gauge depot at Berehove (on one of the narrow gauge branches which no longer has a passenger service- the train running empty over it to reach the active section on running days). Given the TU2 wasn't running on the passenger train we deduced it must be in the depot- it was worth a look. After chatting with a Japanese enthusiast who had also missed out on the Narrow Gauge, we took the first DMU to Berehove, a fairly late and unhealthy D1 unit, half of which wasn't powering and was therefore pulling out of stations extremely slowly- even by Ukrainian standards! The unit was good fun however with wooden bench seats, holes in the floors and lets not even mention the toilet... the whole journey cost was in pence.
Not in traffic -but at least we had seen it! TU2 - 034 in Berehove depot (with thanks to the very pleasant staff!) 21/10/2019

There is clearly plenty of interest in this line from foreign enthusiasts as we arrived at Berehove to find another, a Dutch man who again had come and failed to see the narrow gauge! He pointed us in the direction of the depot where we received a mixed reception- it appeared the staff were quite happy for us to be there, but there was no access to the shed as they were in the process of locking up, presumably to go home at 16:00. This left us with a collection of stock and some rather forlorn looking TU7's outside. The size of the depot and the totally overgrown exchange sidings show that this was clearly once a sizeable network. After about an hour poking round and trying desperately to photograph the TU2 through cracks in windows and doors we got a surprise. The depot staff were returning, and not just because they had left the radio on. The depot door was opened and we asked if it would be ok to take a look inside. There was little common language but it was gestured that this was ok- we may not have seen it turned on, but there was TU2 034. About a million photos later we were show into the back of the shed where TU2 018 was up on jacks separated from its underframe.
The second 'gem' inside Berehove Depot - TU2 - 018 devoid of its bogies. 21/10/2019.

M62 1391 is seen at Berehove heading back towards Chop. 21/10/2019
In broken English we were able to establish that the loco was having maintenance but was not 'kaput'- the mechanic was fixing it and was confident it would run on Thursday. Good news even if it wasn't a lot of help to us or the Dutch guy. We had recovered what could have been a disastrous day pretty well and the depot staff were left some beer tokens accordingly. M62 1391 was photographed in the last of the days light at Berehove with the returning train to Chop and Kiev before we took a 'faster' [than the train] car back to Vinohradiv to finally purchase some food and drinks from the bar which had looked after our stuff all day. From the expression on the bar girls face when we left perhaps we had over-tipped for service and bag storage.


Preparing to leave Chop with electric traction. VL10 - 1482 will work forward to Kiev. 21/10/2019.

A very scruffy and half rubbed down M62 1103 arrived with train 601/602 which we would be taking to Lviv. We settled into our 4 bed 'coupe' compartment and after VL10 1482 re-engined the train at Chop shortly before midnight it was time for bed.

Tuesday 22nd October:
VL80 - 1868 stands after arrival at Lviv - a great station with great trains! 22/10/2019.

EMU ER9p-195 after arrival with a commuter service into Lviv. 22/10/2019.
Arrival in Lviv was far too early at 05:58 and the weary travellers headed straight for our hotel. The hope that they might have a shower we could use after three nights on sleepers was unfounded, but we could at least leave our bags and head for breakfast before it got light. Without anything constituting a better plan we headed to the station for the morning. The place is a hive of activity with largely loco hauled trains, almost all of which seem to re-engine here. Electrics swap and diesels work forward on long distance trains to the likes of Ivano Frankivsk and Rakhiv. These were a particular highlight with most trains producing 2M62 pairs (one producing just a single 2M62 section).
HRCS2-011 the new order - a small number of Korean Rotem
DMU's work a number of  services to Premysl in Poland. 
There is also regular diesel action in the form of the stations ChME3's which shunt stock to and from the station, often making a nice bit of a noise and smoke in the process. Electric traction seen was in the form of VL10, VL40, VL80, ChS2 (rebuilt), ChS4 and ChS7. Some of the attractive Soviet multiple units were also present including the DR1 DMU's and my favourites the curved fronted ER9 EMU's. Beyond Lviv main station to the south is a footbridge which stretches across the freight hump yard and then continues on over the locomotive depot- more interest in both of these locations kept us occupied for another hour or so.

Half of 2M62u-0068 after arrival at Lviv with train 606 00:32 from Rakhiv. A DR1 DMU stands in the near platform. 

VL80 - 1854 in an attractive livery arrives light engine to the south of Lviv ready to work its next duty. 22/10/2019.

ChME3 -4856 prepares to shunt stock out of Lviv Station. 22/10/2019.

VL40 - 1395 (re-built from VL80 double locos) heads light engine into Lviv Station. 22/10/2019.

ChME3- 6105 has attached coaches to a train at Lviv as Provodnistas welcome their passengers. 22/10/2019.

VL11-054A runs through the yards ajacent to Lviv Station. 22/10/2019. 

A convenient footbridge spans the depot at Lviv.  ChME3-1922 passes rows of stored M62's. 22/10/2019.

Half of 2M62u-0330 pulls an infrastructure train through Lviv Pidzamche.
After grabbing some snacks from the station (we really liked the meat-filled pancake type things) we headed by taxi to Pidzamche station in the north of the city. No sooner had we done so than half of 2M62u 0330 passed through with an infrastructure train. All other freight we saw was in the hands of VL80's though sadly all heading in the wrong direction. Many loco hauled passenger trains stopped here including2M62u 0058 train 142 the 14:24 Lviv - Bahmut. The highlight however was probably the very smoky departure of DR1A 194 DMU which smoked out half of the local area after sitting in the platform idling for around 30 minutes- our first truly impressive smoke show in Ukraine!
DR1A-194 makes an explosive start from Lviv Pidzamche after idling for some time. 22/10/2019.
It was also here that we met our first issue with photography with a local lady who we thing just simply didn't understand why 4 English lads would spend an extended period with cameras on her local station not getting on trains. I'm sure she went away still not understanding but there didn't appear to be a further issue and the red cap lady while confused didn't seem to have a problem with our presence.

ER9p-195 EMU at Lviv Pidzamche. 22/10/2019.
I am sure we could have left by train but the tram was just as good an option to get to our hotel- and we loved the system of simply handing your money down the crowded vehicle to the driver from whom a paper ticket would eventually be passed back down the vehicle to be stamped. We identified that the trams appeared to be second hand ex-Berlin, presumably still wearing their yellow livery from their previous owner.
Back at the hotel a very thorough wash ensued before heading back to the station for some night photography. We had a diesel hauled train in mind which worked out well except for its 20 minute delay (most trains seem to run on time, but a couple did stray by around 20 minutes, particularly those heading to the southern diesel lines) after which we headed into the city for dinner sitting outside for a very good meal in the central square. Public transport seems to shut down fairly early and a reasonably long walk back to the hotel resulted. Nobody struggled to fall asleep!

Wednesday 23rd October:
2M62 - 0755 at Yuzupil with an Ivano-Frankivsk Cement working. 23/10/2019.
A bit of a disastrous start to the morning when the alarm in the other room didn't go off or wasn't set or whatever- the rooms occupants were not up to leave the hotel at 07:30 for train number 15 the 08:04 from Lviv to Ivano Frankivsk. One made it to the station and one eventually joined on a later train. Train 15 itself departed around 15 minutes late and as well as the sleepers contained one day coach with a restaurant car - had we realised we would not have just brought breakfast on the station! The weather was perfect in Lviv, but soon into the journey thick fog had surrounded the train - this was to be a theme of the mornings going forward. Fortunately the weather cleared just before Ivano Frankivsk in time for some sunny pictures of our loco; 2M62 0618 being removed from the train ready for 2TE10M 2750 to back on to continue the run down to Rakhiv. As we had hoped from the 2TE10 the departure was very smokey and did not disappoint!

2TE10M-2750 + 0310 provides the hoped for display as it leads it's train out of Ivano-Frankivsk for Rakhiv. 23/10/2019.

2TE10M - 2601 tackles the gradient at Yuzupil with a freight.
The next move was to pick up the hire car which was booked through Sixt for a 'meet and greet' at the station. Following my previous car drop of disaster and vow never to use the company again I was certainly nervous as this move was fraught with potential pitfalls! Indeed I could not find the rep in the station however after a call to the company I was directed to a very pleasant and fluent English speaking rep just outside the station with the very car I had booked! It wasn't too long before we were on the road heading up towards a well photographed spot at Yezupil to the north of Ivano Frankivsk- it also wasn't very long before we experienced some of the finest potholes that Ukrainian roads are known for!
Another angle for a southbound passenger at Yuzupil
headed by 2M62u-0115.



We arrived at our chosen bridge just a fraction too late- the car doors were opened to the sound of a booming engine and as we ran to the bridge a 2M62 with a long freight was already underneath it! Fortunately it wasn't long until the distant droan of another train could be heard, the result of which was Ivano Frakivsk Cement liveried 2M62 0755 with a lime train. This is one of very few (if any other) private operators in Ukraine which operates trains on just a short section of line between their quarry and cement factory. No sooner had this train cleared than we were treated to a 2TE10 hauled freight, and then another 2M62 on a slightly late running passenger. Moving on to another spot we missed another 2M62 hauled freight - clearly we had hit a busy spot with all trains heading in the right direction for the light as well.
To reach just a mile or so up the line is a 30+ minute car journey as a river must be crossed some way from the railway. We visited the nearest crossing to the quarry where Ivano Frankivsk Cements sole TE33A - 0249 was waiting to depart with another loaded train. These engines are certainly more modern and while not quite as impressive as their older relatives still make a nice noise and a bit of smoke. Soon after the train departed some local track workers made it clear that we should not be taking photos, certainly not into the quarry at least.

TE33A- 0249 departs the quarry at Dubivtse with a Limestone train. 23/10/2019
The next location was far less fruitful, the morning burst of traffic clearly having been a lucky spell. Only one train was seen, a northbound passenger which was totally wrong for the light. With little daylight left we embarked on finding a location for a sunny shot of the final northbound train, and here, sadly is where it all went wrong. Having settled on a crossing which wasn't perfect, but was ok we set about composing the shot, the crossing keeper not seeming too bothered by our activities. The next man to turn up however was bothered. Very bothered, and also very horrid. Once it became very clear that the shot was off the three photographers scattered after a fairly nasty exchange of words. When the train then emerged around the corner I was only able to grab a very quick an unplanned shot while our angry man chased my friends down the road! What the guys problem was we will never know but it left a definite downer on the day and after a few bangs of his fist on the car bonnet we departed this crossing never to return!
The forbidden photo near Tustan - A location we are unlikely to re-visit anytime soon! 2M62u-0088 heads north. 23/10/2019.

2M62u-0215 at Ivano-Frankivsk having arrived from Lviv. 23/10/2019.
Back at the station it was time to check in to our hotel, the rather plush Grand Hotel Roxolana. We picked up our fourth comrade after his extra day in Lviv and undertake some night photography. The latter activity was cut short as there was certainly some commotion over the photographers on the station- still reeling from the earlier crossing incident it was time to pack up and head for a very nice - if tediously slow dinner.
North of the Dnister river 2M62u-0155 powers a train north towards Lviv.

Thursday 24th October:
2TE10UT 0086B and 0029A works south with train 139 towards Vorotka near Yamna. 24/10/2019.

ChME3 - 5893 heads south near Delyatyn. 24/10/2019.
There was just about time to grab a croissant from the hotel breakfast buffet today before we jumped in the car to head down the line towards Rakhiv. Again the day dawned foggy and we were concerned whether our first shot would be on at all - fortunately the sky soon cleared and we were pleased to capture ChME3 5893 with half of a DMU on train 6441 from Kolomya to Rakhiv. We got lucky while searching for the next location as half of 2TE10ut 0035 was seen with a short engineers train. This was obviously worth chasing (especially since the main road was actually in good condition) and we duly caught up with the train and made it back to see our first M62 'DMU' labled as DPL1-0021, unfortunately the wrong way round on train 6405 from Ivano Frankivsk to Yremche.
Half of 2TE10ut - 0035 with an engineers train bound for Vorotka near Delyatyn. 24/10/2019. 
Next it was time to get into positions for the two southbound long distance trains- photographing the the Vorotka terminator and then managing two shots of the long distance Rakhiv train in the gorge north of Mikulichin before chasing it down to Tatariv and then on to Vorokhta where the ballast train we had seen earlier was now stabled.

2TE10M-2750 + 0310 skirts the Prut River as it heads south to Rakhiv. 24/10/2019.

2TE10M-2750 + 0310 is seen again as it gets its train underway from Tatariv. 24/10/2019.

2TE10UT 0086B + 0029A works back up the line, viewed from high above Yamna.
This was the last of the southbound trains so we headed back in search of some lunch and to photograph the two northboundnds before the long lull in traffic which would last until the end of the days light. These were seen around Yamna where the line briefly turns slightly south. Next it was a transfer west to Kolomya where a nice spot was found for what we expected to be two trains but ultimately turned out to be just one- half of 2M62 1114 in 'DMU' configuration with a service from Chernivisti to Kolomya. With the light now disappearing rapidly it was time to head back to Ivano Frankivsk, enjoy the luxury of the hotel spa and find some dinner.
A 'DMU' lead by half of 2M62 1114 is seen on the (very slow) approach to Kolomya from Chernivisti. 24/10/2019.

Friday 25th October:

Ivano-Frankivsk Cement TEM2-2445 is seen in the yard at Yamnytsya.
The weather was less good this morning with actual cloud rather than just the fog we were used to. This allowed a full breakfast to be enjoyed before checking out and heading to the station for the morning burst of activity. If you like M62's on passenger trains this is the time and place for you! As well as a long distance train with 2M62 power to Lviv and Kiev there are four departures within an hour. 6405 the 0825 to Yaremeche being an M62 powered 'DMU' (which I missed), 6423 the 0837 to Styri was in the hands of M62 1457 on two coaches while 6432 the 09:03 to Kolomya was both halves of 2M62 1051 sandwiching 5 DMU trailers. Only the 09:16 train to Khodoriv broke the trend being formed of a D1 DMU.

Half of 2M62u-0290 is seen with its inspection train at Yuzupil. 25/10/2019.
Today was our last day in the area, and indeed last full day in Ukraine and was to be spent 'moping up' a few bits we still felt were unfinished business. Unfortunately today there were less passenger trains, and it turned out a lot less freight than we had seen on Wednesday. Back at Yezupil we saw two empty trains from Ivano Frankivsk Cement heading to the quarry. With the weather less than ideal and having not dressed for the cold a couple of us took the car back to the cement works to attempt a photo of one of the TEM2 shunters there- this was achieved once the sun finally came out and before we were asked (very nicely) by an official to move on and told that photography wasn't permitted at the works crossing, but that we were fine at the nearby station. A ChME3 was observed passing with a northbound infrastructure train before we departed.
TE33A - 0249 works it's train of Limestone across the Dnister River towards Yuzupil. 25/10/2019.
Back at Yezupil now with some lunch we captured one of the loaded trains heading back to the cement works behind 2M62 0755. A nice shot but almost identical to what I had taken on Wednesday! The only surprise was 2M62u 0290 with an inspection coach before a very long wait for TE33A-0249 to again head south as it had on Wednesday. Sadly that was our lot! There was one northbound passenger in daylight and we headed north to near Burchdyn to photograph it - our last M62 of the trip in daylight.
D1-644 DMU exchanges its passengers in the platform at Ivano-Frankivsk. 25/10/2019.

DPL1-021 'DMU' (with half 2M62 for power) arrives into Ivano Frankivsk.
Back to Ivano Frankivsk where we dropped off the car, again with no hassle, before heading to the recommended Copper Head for food, beers and cocktails sat on rocking chairs! It was certainly busy and we were very lucky to get a table. Sadly drinks had to be cut short in order to pick up our bags and head to the station for some M62 night photography before boarding our final train of the trip; Train 7/8 23:49 Ivano Frankivsk - Kiev. Finally we were near the front of the train and listened to the little sound that 2M62 0999 produced on departure from our slightly more modern 4 bed 'kupe' compartment.




Saturday 26th October:
Our final daylight 2M62 heads north on 25/10/2019 near Burshtyn in the last of the days light.
Arrival in Kiev was on time shortly after 09:00 behind ChS4 111. The weather was gloomy for the first time in the trip and happy with all that we had achieved the bags were left in the station lockers (which we now understood) an we headed into the city for a bit of sightseeing- thoroughly enjoying the Metro in the process. This very deep system has some impressively grand stations with typical blue 'soviet' style metro trains. Had we realised at the time that our visit was in the last week of tokens being used to work the system before the full role out of smart cards we would almost certainly have brought an extra one as a souvenir! We also had time for a ride on the funicular before heading back to pick up our bags and head to the airport. For information the Metro at Kiev Pass is not labled very clearly- it is the building to the right of the main station building when you look at the city entrance - we didn't find it heading into the city and were surprised at where we had emerged on our return!
M62 1457 stands at Ivano Frankivsk with a local train for Styri. 25/10/2019.

ChS8-014 passes Kiev Vyshneve 20/10/2019.
The skybus was our passage to the airport, being somewhat delayed due to heavy city traffic. Maybe it was a good thing we didn't have long at Terminal F (for Ryanair) of Borispol airport as there was absolutely nothing there! Not even a duty free or a post box. A fairly unsatisfying hot dog was to be the final meal of the trip and a few people sadly had to go without their souvenirs! There is evidence that the terminal is being improved very slightly, but definitely one of the worst places I have flown from. The main terminal used by 'normal' airlines looked perfectly good when we passed on the bus and also has the advantage of being served by an hourly train from the main station.



Conclusions:
2TE10UT 0029A and 0086B on the downhill grade at Yamna on 24/10/2019.

ChME3-4856 pulls coaches to add to a train at Lviv. 22/10/2019.
What a trip! This was always going to be an interesting one and without too much prior knowledge of the country was always intended as a bit of a reckkie - though hopefully quite a successful one. With the exception of the narrow gauge not running I think it is fair to say that we saw everything we had hoped to and were also very lucky with the weather! With the exception of the one really unfortunate incident with the crossing keeper on the whole we found we had very few issues with photography and while most people didn't really get what we were doing we met numerous friendly locals and traincrew. The trains themselves are awesome- they just look and sound great and the traditional liveries (very much on their way out in Russia) really set the scene of a railway which feels like it is from a bygone age. We were all really taken by Lviv which as well as appearing to be a great city was just a wonderful place to watch trains and I would highly recommend a visit. We will certainly be going back - if not to get that narrow gauge line!
ChME3-5257 smokes out of Lviv with a long ECS at dawn. 22/10/2019.

DPR1-021 disapears into the hills at Delyatyn with a train to Yremche. 24/10/2019
Tickets to Kiev were a variety of FIP coupons with reservations and additional bookings (particularly for the 'Kiev Express') by Polrail Service. All long distance trains within Ukraine booked in advance online (once my bank had approved the weird transaction to a Ukrainian company in the middle of a night shift!).
Thanks to Rob Bishop, Rhys Jennings and James Hawkes for the company and assistance with organising the trip.